To start my hunt for furniture on the correct footing, it makes sense to begin with the largest shopping centre in the UAE: The Dubai Mall. With so many options, from small, independent retailers and speciality shops to large department stores that carry furniture, housewares, linens and decorative items, I expect a full weekend of searching to uncover a variety of possibilities that will also help me to establish my project budget.
To make efficient use of my time on my first day out, I have the three biggest furniture items in my sights: the sofa, bed and dining table. My initial stop is the furniture department at Bloomingdale's. Hidden at the back of the store on the ground level is a collection of furniture from an array of quality manufacturers to suit almost any taste. So armed with my project file of furniture images and room dimensions, I am able to hone in on specific manufacturers to see if I can find something I like.
Bloomingdale's carries the lifestyle brand Ralph Lauren Home, which has a beautiful selection of art deco-inspired furniture that aligns with my design objectives, but seems too elegant for my goals. Since early planning helped to clearly define my aesthetic intent, I can easily judge whether the style and size of pieces that catch my eye will work in my space. Although I can't find any of the large pieces appropriate for my project, there are many small, accent items that I quite like. In my project notebook, I write down the things that appeal to me (size, finish, manufacturer and price) and take a digital photo for my records. Once I find the anchor items, I can come back to reconsider a few of them.
Bloomingdale's also has an extensive collection of housewares that will make great additions to my home when the furniture is in place. Since I plan to occasionally have small groups of people over, I will need to find the accoutrements for entertaining.
As much as I want to start picking up these wonderful items right away, my priority is the furniture, so all of this can wait until I know exactly what I need and can select everything to relate to the style of furniture and decor.
Not finding any contenders for the first three items on my shopping list, I venture to the next two destinations on my map - Galeries Lafayette and Ethan Allen. My strategy is to visit the bigger retailers first, and then move on to the smaller, speciality stores. A great thing about a larger store is that it will often maintain stock ready-to-deliver, so when I find something I like, I can have it within a week.
Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah. House Doctor can be read every week in House & Home.